Not even the pandemic could stop Lorien from looking for ways to bring its residents together and making them smile.
Earlier this year we teamed up with Sasha Dawn, the CEO and founder of Utopia Experiences, a company that offers a virtual live-hosted interactive game show called Spintopia – like Wheel of Fortune – specifically geared toward seniors.
Sasha viewed Lorien as a company having a culture built on innovation and providing residents with the latest technology. We were the first senior living company in Maryland, for example, to provide telehealth to residents in their homes and partner with community hospitals through telemedicine.
She had a feeling that we would be eager to test Spintopia. In fact, Lorien became the first assisted living and nursing home company in Maryland to pilot the game when its beta version made its debut last April. It was an immediate hit among our residents and in just nine weeks, residents at four Lorien locations played 100 games.
We understand that in addition to caring for residents as if they were family members, the future is keeping residents engaged, active, vibrant, and having fun. Spintopia, with its flashing lights, beeps, and tricky questions, has proven to be one of the answers.
The story of Spintopia comes out of the gloom of the pandemic.
Sasha believed that entertaining people and keeping them engaged and enjoying themselves would not only help them navigate the perils of Covid-19 but thrive in its shadow.
She initially developed Spintopia for families to enjoy at gatherings, parties, and special events. But she pivoted when the pandemic took a personal turn nearly claiming the life of her father, who was recovering from a stroke in a nursing home.
With her father in the nursing home, Sasha hosted a Spintopia game with him and three other residents, two who had suffered strokes and another who was paralyzed from an ATV accident.
“We forgot about COVID and who couldn’t get out of bed,” Sasha said. “We forgot we were sad, lonely, and scared. We felt good.”
From there, she began addressing the senior market. Using her background in holistic therapy, Sasha used Spintopia to conduct virtual, cognitive therapy for residents.
Spintopia uses “formats, colors, fonts, and games they’d recognize from what was on TV back when they were younger,” Sasha said. “It was incredible to see them light up when they saw something familiar, like it was unlocking something deep from within their subconscious.”
Lorien residents fell in love with the game when they first played it last April. Their faces light up as they search for answers to fun questions and they are completely engaged when playing. Spintopia underscores our belief that residents need to be challenged and stimulated.
Like all of us, Verna Toms, who is Assisted Life Enrichment Coordinator at Lorien Health Services, is a Spintopia fan. She believes it has a positive impact on cognition.
“As Utopia Experiences creates new challenging interactive games, I feel it will change the way we look at our activities,” she said.
Sasha plans to introduce two new games, bingo, and trivia over the next several months.
“We want to show more people the good we do. We want to be the leader in senior gaming therapy,” Sasha said, "I am grateful that Lorien gave us a chance to pilot this new software at their communities and continues to help us grow.”
Lorien Health Services is constantly moving forward by seeking out, and adapting to, the ever-changing trends in healthcare technology as a means to maximize the quality of life for the people we serve.